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Rick Mitchell

20 Dec 2019 3:21 PM | Rick Mitchell

Rick Mitchell Best of 2019

In recent years, I have been listing top tracks played on my radio programs Jazz In the New Millennium (syndicated nationally by the African American Public Radio Consortium) and The Motif (on KBOO-FM in Portland, Oregon). This year, I have an actual top ten albums list, all of which sound good at home listening to the CD with the headphones or one track at a time while driving in the car. I recently interviewed Branford Marsalis, who commented on what he perceives to be the disconnect between the music that critics like as reflected by the annual JJA and NPR polls and what the listening public -- not necessarily the smooth-jazz/R&B audience but the relatively educated real jazz audience -- actually likes. He told me, "They are trying to redefine what jazz is, but they won't succeed." Notice I didn't vote for him either, but he has a point... I try to program music that both upholds the highest standards of musicianship for jazz in the 21st Century and has the potential to make people tap their feet and nod their heads in the way, as Branford noted, that listening to Charlie Parker did. It's also worth noting that my choices draw from regional sources beyond the New York solar system: San Francisco, Trinidad, Jamaica, New Orleans, Detroit, Dallas, Cuba... (BTW: The top three albums on my list share a drummer: Obed Calviere, from Miami. Dude can play.) 

I've also cited ten additional non-jazz albums, though I no longer keep up with popular music enough to claim any legitimacy for this as a ten-best list. It's just what I enjoy. Peace.  

Top Jazz Albums

1. SFJAZZ Collective, The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim & Original Compositions (SFJAZZ)

2. Etienne Charles, Carnival The Sound of a People Vol. 1 (Culture Shock)

3. Monty Alexander, Wareika Hill Rastamonk Vibrations (MACO)

4. Herlin Riley, Perpetual Optimism (Mack Avenue)

5. James Carter Organ Trio, Live From Newport Jazz (Blue Note)

6. Ulysses Owens Jr., Songs of Freedom (Resilience)

7. Jazzmeia Horn, Love & Liberation (Concord Jazz)

8. Roberto Fonseca, Yesun (Mack Avenue)

9. Christian Scott Atunde Adjua, Ancestral Recall (Stretch Music/ropeadope)

10. Mike Clark, Indigo Blue Live at the Iradium (ropeadope) 

Top Debut

1. Joel Ross, Kingmaker (Blue Note)

Top Reissue

1. Errol Garner, Closeup in Swing (Mack Avenue/Octave) 

Top Americana/World Albums

1. Yola, Walk Through Fire (Easy Eye Sound)

2. Lakou Mizik, HaitiaNola (Cumbancha)

3. Keb Mo, Oklahoma (Concord)

4. Tedeschi Trucks Band, Signs (Fantasy)

5. Jimmie Vaughan, Baby, Please Come Home (Last Music/JLV)

6. Santana, Africa Speaks (Concord)

7. North Mississippi Allstars, Up and Rolling (New West)

8. Brittany Howard, Jaime (ATO)

9. Angelique Kidjo, Celia (Verve)

10. Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi, There Is No Other (Nonesuch) 

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